Mental health portal opens

GREAT Southern Mental Health patients are benefiting from $8.5 million in federal funding to run the Mental Health portal program.

The funding was awarded to WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) to run the program through Albany’s Amity Health.

Amity Health chief executive officer Robin Surridge said she was pleased Amity Health was able to continue supporting more people in the Great Southern through the pro- vision of this additional health care.

“By providing some early intervention and a greater range of mental health care options, we can make a real difference in people’s health and lives,” Ms Surridge said.

The Mental Health Portal is part of a state-wide rollout of a new model of stepped care, a mode of matching patients with mental health treatment options based on their need, and is delivered in different formats to improve access and equity across WA.

The Great Southern Mental Health Portal will be a point of contact for people who are financially disadvantaged, or for those living in places where there are no other services to access early intervention mental health care services.

This will provide a better range of therapy support options at different levels of intensity.

WAPHA regional manager Lesley Pearson said the new stepped care model fundamentally changed WA’s approach to primary mental health treatment.

“Under the new system, GPs will be more involved in their patients’ care through regular reports indicating their progress,” Ms Pearson said.

“It is designed to ensure vulnerable people can more easily access mental health support at the right level, at the right time, wherever they live in WA.”

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Baby turtles stray from home

BEACH goers have been urged to keep an eye out for baby loggerhead turtles that have been washing up on South Coast beaches.

Some of the endangered turtles are getting caught in the Leeuwin Current and are being washed down the WA coastline, getting as far as Esperance.

John Pridham from the Department of Parks and Wildlife said the turtles required specialist care, and cannot just sit in a bathtub at home.

“The loggerhead turtle is known to be difficult to care for,” he said.

“Anyone who finds one needs to get in contact with DPAW or the Wildcare Helpline.

“They shouldn’t be returned to the ocean or cared for by people without the necessary training.”

Mr Pridham said all turtles that are handed to DPAW are given to specialist carers, who rehabilitate them so they can be moved.

“People like Sue Gleave care for them until they can be sent to Perth Zoo or to the Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre.

“After being given the go-ahead, they’re sent to Exmouth to be released.”

Ms Gleave has been rescuing and rehabilitating the turtles she finds; however, she strongly urges anyone from the public who find them to not return them to the water.

“They’re not from our waters and if you put them back it will kill them,” she said.

If you find any baby loggerhead turtles, please contact DPAW on 9842 4500 or the Wildcare Helpline on 9874 9055.

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HMAS Anzac nips into port

HMAS Anzac paid its home port of Albany an unexpected visit on the weekend, as massive seven-metre swells forced the ship inland.

“We’ve had the sea sick brigade for four days, so I think the crew were very appreciative of our stop in Albany,” Captain Michael Devine said.

The naval ship was headed to Henderson for maintenance checks, but changed route to take a break from the crazy swells and waves.

“When we hit the Bass Strait, we knew we were in for some bad weather,” he said.

“We have been here since Sunday and are hoping to leave on Thursday, with a swell hopefully less than six metres.”

Home ports are often used as the areas for ship maintenance, which meant the eastern-states based crew members were away from family for longer than planned.

“Sydney is very busy, so we’ve come to the west for our maintenance checks,” Capt Devine said.

“Unfortunately, this means a lot of us are away from our families for longer, but we are aiming to be back in Sydney in late October.”

The ship’s last visit to Albany was in March.

“We hadn’t been back to Albany in a while before our March visit, so our relations seemed a bit faded,” Capt Devine said.

“It is so important to us to have strong relations with our home port, so we had open days, lunches and a cocktail function the last time we came into port.
“However, this visit was at short notice, which is disappointing, and we had no time to arrange any events.”

As fate would have it, a representative Albany soccer side was able to be quickly pulled together, to challenge the sailors to a match on Sunday night.

“It was great to see familiar faces from our March visit,” Capt Devine said.

“We didn’t have our full naval crew in March, so we had lots of new crew members keen to play against the Albany side.

“It was a really warm vibe.”

The sailors managed to get some sight-seeing in whilst in town, visiting the National Anzac Centre and checking out popular cycling trails.

“We have a few diehards out bike riding at the moment, and we hope to send some of them back to Albany in time for the Southern MTB event in September.”

Captain Devine spoke with Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington during the HMAS Anzac’s stop over.

“We hope to come back to Albany for the 2018 celebrations,” he said.

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Tourism talk at conference

ALBANY has been selected to host the 2017 WA Regional Tourism Conference next month, as a part of the Amazing South Coast alliance with Mt Barker and Plantagenet.

The conference will take place over three days from September 11 to 13, and give attendees the opportunity to learn about innovations being made across the tourism industry.

The event will include presentations from government ministers, industry leaders and tourism experts, as well as training workshops on content marketing, tourism photography and website analytics.

“Albany beat out a number of other destinations from across WA to be named the host city for this event,” Tourism Council WA CEO Evan Hall said.

“The event is an opportunity for tourism business operators and representatives of the tourism industry to engage in professional and business development, network with industry colleagues, and hear from industry-leading speakers on critical issues and innovative ideas.”

Speakers at the event will include Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington, Minister for Tourism Paul Papalia, Dome Cafes founder Patria Jafferies, Tourism Council WA CEO Evan Hall and Perth Stadium CEO Mike McKenna.

City of Albany Manager for Tourism Development and Services Matthew Bird said the conference will provide a great learning opportunity for businesses and tourism industry organisations.

“The conference will be a great opportunity to showcase our region to Tourism Council WA and the industry, under the Amazing South Coast alliance,” Mr Bird said.

“Speakers such as Mark Wilsdon from the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania will be very interesting to hear from, and will show how the tourism industry can make sure it lifts its game and maintains its professionalism.

“There’s no point in having great marketing if the destination isn’t up to standard.”

There will be an Amazing South Coast stand at the conference, to promote the new brand and discuss the region with visitors.

“We are even going to crack open the whale costume, to welcome visitors,” Mr Bird said.

General Manager of Albany’s Historic Whaling Station Elise van Gorp said she was excited for the station to host one of the regional tours for conference visitors.

“We are really looking forward to interacting and greeting visitors, as well as discuss the innovative changes and upcoming events at the Whaling Station,” Ms van Gorp said.

“The conference and regional tours will be a great platform for marrying ideas together for tourism.”

The main proceedings will take place at the new Centennial Stadium, while the conference dinner at the Albany Entertainment Centre will include the presentation of the Top Tourism Town Awards, of which Albany is a finalist.

Tickets for the WA Regional Tourism Conference can be registered and purchased online at

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Ravensthorpe’s silver lining

BUSINESSES in the Shire of Ravensthorpe remain optimistic as the local economy braces for the impact of the mothballing of First Quantum Minerals’ nickel mine, saying it will not be as catastrophic as the 2008 closure, when former owner BHP closed the mine and sacked 1800 workers.

First Quantum Minerals (FQM) bought the mine in 2009 and employed 405 people last year.

Although the mine could keep producing nickel for another 31 years, the owners say depressed prices have forced it into care and maintenance.

Galaxy Resources’ lithium mine, 2km north of Ravensthorpe, reopened in March last year and looks to provide something of a silver lining for some workers.

The increased lithium prices allowed it to reopen last year, and it is now seeking more employees.

Ray White Rural South Coast licensee Terri Pens said FQM’s decision would not harm her sales or rentals in Hopetoun or Ravensthorpe.

Ms Pens said only about 60 of the mine’s workers lived in Hopetoun, and the rest lived at the minesite and had no impact on the town.

“Sales declined significantly after BHP closed the mine, and they have slowly been coming back. In the last six months they have picked up quite well and we are moving quite a lot of property,” she said.

Ms Pens said unlike FQM, Galaxy Resources encouraged its workforce to live in town, and she could see no problem in finding tenants for houses in Hopetoun.

“We are short of rentals in Ravensthorpe, so we are getting the overflow into Hopetoun because we simply can’t get enough good houses in Ravensthorpe,” she said.

Wavecrest Bar and Bistro manager Aaron Besso said he had lost some customers from the mine closure, as fewer workers were coming for a meal and drink.

However, he expected to retain all of his staff this year.

“Over the next four to six weeks nothing’s going to change,” he said.

“The rosters will stay the same and the hours will be the same.”

Mr Besso said the National Park, which closed after Christmas, would reopen this month, bringing back the tourist trade for the wildflower season, and the Tourist Park was almost fully booked for September.

“Until the end of Easter I’m not really concerned. It won’t be until winter next year that I guess we see the real impact of the loss of people.”

Ravensthorpe Shire President Keith Dunlop said he was more worried about the effect the mine closure would have on Hopetoun than Ravensthorpe, particularly for the primary school.

He said school enrolments had already fallen from 101 children at the end of last year to 82 this year.

The school was likely to be downgraded from level four to level three next year, which would result in the loss of a deputy principal and increased teaching duties for the principal.

“We’ve been through it before. It was a lot worse when BHP closed, and there’s going to be a few people that will have to leave to find a job,” he said.

“But everyone’s pretty positive. We’ve just got to move on.”

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Police investigate fatal fall

TRIBUTES continue to roll in for Denmark local Ben Napier after he was found dead in Perth on Sunday.

Mr Napier had moved to Perth to study teaching at Curtin University in 2015 and was out celebrating a recent football win with friends when the accident occurred.

After leaving Jack Rabbit Slim’s on Aberdeen Street in Northbridge, Mr Napier was separated from his friends at around 4.30am.

After attempts to find Mr Napier, his friends returned to the Northbridge venue and tragically found him in an alleyway behind the building at 8pm.

St John Ambulance officers attended the scene and declared Mr Napier deceased at around 9.20pm.

Police are investigating whether Mr Napier may have fallen from a nearby building, and a report is being prepared for the Coroner.

Mr Napier was a talented footballer and played with the Denmark-Walpole Football Club, and also volunteered his time at the Denmark Surf Lifesaving Club.

Members of the football and lifesaving club gathered at McLean Oval on Wednesday evening to remember the 20 year-old.

Carl Heslop from the Denmark-Walpole Football club said that Mr Napier and his family have been a significant part of the club.

“Ben was an outstanding young man,” he said

“He was always willing to help the club and his team.”

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No bones about masonic mystery

WESTERN Australia’s top Freemason has confirmed human bones found during renovation works at the former Albany masonic hall in May were once used in the secretive organisation’s private ceremonies.

Dr William Babe, who is Grand Master of WA Freemasons, said they used the bones as teaching aids while performing a ritual known as the Third Degree.

“They are called the Emblems of Mortality and they are used very briefly as a lesson in our own mortality,” he said.

“It’s not done in any improper way and they are of an enormous historical significance.”

“For 600 years it’s been a part of our culture that’s never really come to light; it is something we keep to ourselves.”

Dr Babe said the ritual used to be performed using either a real skull and two thighbones, or replicas made of plaster cast or wood.

“All of them were from antiquity,” he said. “The ones that were found would likely go back to the 1860s.”

While enacting the dramatic moral lesson, freemasons arranged them to make the well-known “skull and crossbones” emblem, which Dr Babe said appeared in many old cathedrals throughout Europe.

Dr Babe said the 125 lodges under his jurisdiction no longer used human bones in the ceremony since a former grand master ordered them to be handed in to police in 1999.

When it was put on the market in 2008, the Albany masonic hall belonged to Plantagenet Lodge, which is the oldest lodge in the region and is not affiliated with Dr Babe’s Grand Lodge of Western Australia.

Sven Tobiassen, who is master of that English-affiliated lodge, said it stopped using human bones in its rituals some time in the last century and they may have been long-forgotten lodge property.

Alternatively, he said the bones may have belonged to one of the Western Australian masonic lodges that rented rooms in the building for their meetings.

Dr Babe, who is also a General Practitioner in Kalamunda, said there was no law governing human remains until 1972, and as a medical student he was required to own a real skeleton.

A police spokesperson said an initial investigation showed there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the bones found in the old Albany lodge rooms.

“The remains were collected by the State Mortuary, and this is no longer a police matter,” she said.

Albany Senior Constable Jill Cartmell said police determined the bones were not of recent origin but still had to be identified.

“Once we rule out that it’s not a recent crime or it’s not a criminal matter it is looked at by university scientists,” she said.

Snr Const Cartmell said this was being done at the University of Western Australia in Perth.

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Sea rescue bravery commended

DENMARK and Peaceful Bay Volunteer Marine Rescue groups have been recognised for their efforts during the search for a missing man at Boat Harbour in April.

They have been jointly nominated for the Volunteer Marine Rescue Awards as a result of their response and search for Jack Bray, which was conducted in some of the worst conditions the groups had experienced.

Denmark VMR president Trent Moore said the efforts made by not only the Denmark and Peaceful Bay VMR members, but also the SES and local police was commendable.

“Everyone was trying to find him,” he said.

“I just really want to thank all the volunteers and emergency services that got out there to help.”

Mr Moore said that the nomination and recognition by Denmark locals was really encouraging for the volunteers.

“It’s really good to be recognised for the work that we do,” he said.

“We do what we do for the safety of watercraft and locals.

“But it’s really encouraging for the boys to be recognised for the service they provide.”

President of the Peaceful Bay VMR Brian Vigus also said that it was great to be acknowledged for their work, and recalled the difficult conditions on the water.

“It was absolutely horrendous,” he said.

“Thankfully we made it back safely and were able to continue the search the next day.”

Mr Moore and Mr Vigus will be attending the Volunteer Marine Services Award at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre on September 9.

A Department of Fire and Emergency Services spokesperson said the groups were nominated by Denmark Police and were commended for their ability to respond immediately and work collaboratively to navigate some of the worst conditions either of the groups had ever encountered.
Peaceful Bay VMR group were also recognised for their dedication to remaining prepared throughout the year, despite the small community seeing very few incidents until the inundation of seasonal locals and tourists over summer.

Mr Bray’s body was found at Little Quaram Beach, 3km from where he had entered the water, five days after being washed off rocks during the successful rescue of his girlfriend, who was washed off rocks at Boat Harbour.

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Season’s new foals are all the talk

THE first foals of the season have landed safely at Mungrup Stud, with the Narrikup thoroughbred stud welcoming four new deliveries.

More than 100 foals are expected during the season, which officially commences on August 1 each year and runs through to late November to early December.

Mungrup Stud’s Tom Croucher said the new season had got off to a smooth start despite the weather.

“The mares are like ladies, if they’re gonna foal – they’re gonna foal.”

Besides the weather making it a bit less comfortable, we’ve had a good start,” he said.

One of the first foals born this season was to the stud’s new stallion I’m All The Talk.

The colt is destined for the 2019 yearling sales along with the remaining new arrivals.

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Out of the classroom and on to the courts

A GROUP of local Albany education associations have joined forces to create a regular sporting event for at-risk secondary students, to help with re-engagement and confidence in their schooling.

Great Southern Aboriginal Health Service, Albany Senior High School, Great Southern Education Attendance Unit, Albany Youth Support Association, Aboriginal Education Unit, Alta-1 and Wanslea Family Services have collaborated to run basketball matches, known as the Alter Tomorrow Basketball Event.

The aim of the event is to help youth build further social networks and support within the community, as well as to promote leadership, team work, goal setting and social and emotional wellbeing.

The Alter Tomorrow Basketball Event will run once per school term and will also encompass learning about culture, health, lifestyle choices and developing relationship awareness.

“These are kids with very active minds, and getting them out of the classroom to engage in other activities allows them to learn in a differ- ent way,” Alta-1 teacher and chaplain Tim Fairley said.

“We bring them to the basketball courts and they can get together, play, and we put on a sausage sizzle for them.

“Their participation in the program is based on their attendance and performance at school.

“If they have done well, then they are allowed to join in.”

Wanslea Family Support Worker Stuart Roberts said the goal of the program is to re-engage students with school and encourage friendships.

“We are bringing kids from high-risk backgrounds or similar backgrounds together, so they can support one another and work together,” Mr Roberts said.

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